Retargeting – How to Research and Launch a Retargeting Campaign



How to Research and Launch a Retargeting Campaign

Retargeting is an online advertising practice that serves your ads to users after they leave your website. Your ads appear all over the web, allowing you to stay in front of your audience even when they’re browsing other sites.  The average American is exposed to over 3,000 advertising messages daily, but most can only specifically recall 2 ads that they’ve ever seen.  Retargeting is a great way to combat so-called “banner blindness,” people’s tendency not to recall online ads, and help you launch a successful branding campaign and remind users of your products and services even if they aren’t on your site.

Here are some important considerations prior to launching a retargeting campaign:

Determine Your Objectives

Take a moment to think about your marketing goals.  What, specifically, are you trying to accomplish?

Do you have only a few website visitors?  If your goal is to drive initial web traffic, retargeting is not the right solution.  You should work on improving your organic search rankings with SEO, and should implement a mix of paid search and display advertising campaigns to get people to your site.

Do you have some traffic coming to your site, but want to improve your conversion rates?  In this case, retargeting is a great solution.  Even if your web traffic isn’t quite as high as you would like it to be, it still could be a good idea to add retargeting into your marketing mix.  Adding retargeting to existing search or display campaigns is a great way to court new site visitors without forgetting about your previous visitors.

If you’ve decided that retargeting is the right (or one of the right) solutions for you, follow the steps outlined below to get started.

Segment your audience

Divide audience into segments based on purchase intent and show them ads accordingly.  Site visitors who only go to your site’s homepage may not yet know much about you, so you should target them with branding ads to get them more familiar with you and your product or service.  However, if a user goes to a specific product page, they may be closer to buying.  In this instance, you may have better results showing ads with specific deals or incentives tailored to the product they looked at.  The most successful retargeting campaign will not treat all site visitors alike.

Set a Frequency Cap

It’s highly recommended to set a frequency cap for your retargeting campaign.  You want your brand to be remembered, but you don’t want your users to feel overwhelmed.  Setting a strict limit on the number of times any given user can see your ads will prevent them from feeling like they’re being followed around the web, as overexposure can lead to negative associations with your brand.

In addition to negative brand associations, you don’t want to run the risk of “banner blindness,” the very problem retargeting sets out to defeat.  If you expose your users to your ads constantly, they will begin to ignore them, diminishing the effectiveness of the retargeting campaign.

Set Conversion and Burn Pixels

A conversion pixel is a snippet of code which tracks when the user converts (for example, makes a purchase or fills out a lead form).  The burn pixel is another snippet which tells your retargeting provider to stop serving ads to the converted user.

This is particularly important if you’re targeting ads related to a specific product or service.  If you’ve been showing a user an ad for a particular suitcase, and then the user purchases is it, there is no constructive purpose to continuing to show them the ad.  If anything, it is likely to have a negative effect on the user who could easily get annoyed seeing ads for a suitcase they already own!


Retargeting can improve conversion rates by up to 300%.  But don’t take my word for it.  If you implement a retargeting campaign, test the results yourself by comparing your traditional display ads’ performance with your retargeting ads’ performance.

And don’t forget to constantly A/B test the copy and creative for your retargeting ads to make sure you’re always putting your best foot forward.

About the Author:

Caroline Watts is a marketing associate at ReTargeter, an online ad platform specializing in retargeting.